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WRWA sponsors or participates in a variety of events during the year. Many of these events offer opportunities for volunteers to get involved with watershed issues. The listing below includes some specifics for 2011 events.
Atlantic Salmon Egg-Rearing Program (ASERP): WRWA provided chillers and tanks (and other supplemental equpment) for eight local schools to participate in this program during the Spring of 2011. This year's schools were Abner Gibbs & St. Mary's Elementary, and the North and South Middle (2 tanks) Schools in Westfield, Fausey Elementary in West Springfield, Gateway Regional Middle School in Huntington, Powder Mill Middle School (2 tanks) in Southwick, and Berkshire Trails Elementary in Cummington. About 300 salmon eggs were delivered to each site in February. Students monitored the hatching of the eggs and cared for the fry until they were stocked in local streams in May or early June. Thannks to Dave Christensen, Mark Damon, Dan Demers, Marj Lehan, Aaron Reyes and Mike Young for helping out with the fry releases!
17th Annual WRWA Symposium: Our annual symposium was held on Saturday, April 2 in the Scanlon Banquet Hall on the campus of Westfield State University. This year's theme was "The Foodshed in Our Watershed", and approximately 150 people attended the event. The keynote speaker was Margaret Christie of the Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA). Margaret has been involved in rebuilding the Western Mass food-system for over 20 years as an activist, a professional and a farmer. She served as CISA's Executive Director in the late 1990s and was instrumental in launching the "Local Hero" program which has helped to raise awareness of the importance and vitality of Western Mass agricultural production among citizens. Margaret provided an overview of past and current efforts to strengthen the bonds between farmers and eaters in our region, which was followed by three concurrent sessions with a variety of talks. Thanks to Brian Conz (chair of this year's symposium committee) and to the Board members who helped make this event a success, including the other committee members (Lynn Bannon, Kathy Meyer, George Reichert, John Shuttleworth, and Mike Young), and those who helped out with registration and other tasks at the event itself, including the committee plus Sheryl Becker, Mark Damon, Bill Rose, and Phil Sousa!
Salmon Fry Stocking: WRWA provides volunteers for two of the Saturdays on which the MA Division of Fisheries and Wildlife stocks salmon fry in the Westfield River and its tributaries. We had a beautiful spring morning on Saturday, April 9, when 15-20 people showed up to help stock sections of Dickinson and Munn Brooks in Granville and Southwick. More than 50,000 fry were released along the riffly sections of those streams, including some scenic but steep terrain along the Granville Gorge that parallels Rt. 57. We also helped out with stocking on Saturday, April 16, along the Middle Branch of the Westfield River above Littleville Lake. The state DFW will continue stocking in the watershed through early May: check the MA Division of Fisheries and Wildlife Salmon Fry Stocking Page for the full stocking schedule, which runs through May 5, and for details about what to bring if you'd like to help out. Calling Caleb Slater's voicemail the day/evening before the event to confirm that it's "on" is a good idea: (508) 389-6331.
Demo Day 2011: WRWA sponsored its second Demo Day on Saturday, May 14. Despite the cloudy weather, nearly 200 participants had the opportunity to "test drive" more than sixty different styles of kayaks and Canoes at Hampton Ponds State Park in Westfield between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The full schedule included a variety of workshops and demonstrations. A kayak, rooftop carrier and other prizes were raffled off, with the drawing at the end of the day.
2011 Annual Meeting: WRWA's Annual Meeting was held on Thursday, May 19 at Strathmore Park in Russell, with about 25 members in attendance. The park opened at 3:00 p.m. for those who wanted to explore a bit (despite the clouds and rain of the preceding week). A wine and cash bar was available beginning at 5:00, with an excellent catered barbecue dinner beginning around 6:30 p.m. (the English trifle desert was a big hit!) The business meeting included a report on the past years' activities by Bill Rose, a brief address by former President Dave Pardoe, and the presentation of the Waite Award to Kathy Meyer, long-time active Board member and past president of WRWA. The evening was topped off by Dr. Michael Vorwerk, chair of the Department of Environmental Science at Westfield State, who outlined some of the student research projects he's supervised in the watershed over the past dozen years. The cost for this year's event was only $15 per person. Thanks to George Reichert (848-2074) and Lynn Bannon for organizing!
Fishway Open House: More than 400 people visited the West Springfield Fish Ladder on Sunday, June 5 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. during WRWA's annual "open house". This event, held rain or shine, is free and open to the general public, and offers a once-a-year opportunity to view the fish ladder and possibly see an adult salmon that's been trapped on its journey up the Westfield River. Parking was available at 150 Front St., at the site of the old Southworth Paper Company building. It's about a half-mile walk along the canal to the site of the fish ladder. Thanks to Bill Rose (786-0195) and the WRWA Board for organizing and carrying out this event.
Storm Drain Labeling: Small groups of volunteers helped out at six storm drain labeling sessions in Westfield on Sunday, June 26, and Saturdays, July 2, 16, and 30, August 20 and September 10 We met in the parking lot next to the Westfield City Hall on each date, and have now labeled about 750 drains in the central portion of Westfield. Thanks to Sheryl Becker, Rob Bristow, Jeremy Felsentreger, Mike Hurley, Timblin Judy, Andrew Silvia, Phil Sousa, Heather Young and Mike Young for their efforts! In addition, Jimmy Smith of Westfield led a group of scouts labeling drains between Meadow St. and the Westfield River in late May, with materials provided by WRWA.
Fly-Fishing Clinic: WRWA's annual fly-fishing clinic, co-sponorsored by the Western Mass Fly Fisherman's Association, was held on Saturday, September 17 at the turnout along Rt. 20 just east of Huntington (across from the health center). There was fly tying instruction, fly casting instruction, and a chance to identify macroinvertebrates! Thanks to Bill Rose, Mark Damon, and the Western Mass Fly Fishermen!
Annual River Cleanup: WRWA's annual river cleanup (in conjunction with the CRWC's "Source to Sea" cleanup), was held on Saturday, October 1. About 50 people, including a large group of 30 from Lane Construction, turned out on a rainy Saturday morning and cleaned about 10 sites along the river between Huntington and West Springfield. A total of 92 bags of trash, 6 tires, and a couple of dozen other large items (including mattresses, a shopping cart, a car door, and an exercise bike) were collected! The Agawam portion of the cleanup was postponed to Oct. 22 due to high river levels and rain. On that date they had a great turnout, including a large group of students from the Agawam High School. Thanks to Mark Damon (Westfield) and Sheryl Becker (Agawam) for organizing this year's event!